Afternoon State Sports Briefs: Bucks look to gain ground despite having night offWisconsin Sports
-- The Milwaukee Bucks don’t play until tomorrow night – but they hope to gain a little more ground in the NBA playoff race this evening.
MILWAUKEE - The Milwaukee Bucks don’t play until tomorrow night – but they hope to gain a little more ground in the NBA playoff race this evening.
The Bucks are a half-game behind ninth-place Charlotte, and one-and-a-half behind Indiana for the eighth-and-final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Indiana has lost five in a row, and they’re at Toronto tonight. Charlotte has lost six straight. The Bobcats are at home against Portland. Milwaukee has won two consecutive games, with a victory at Washington and a home win over Cleveland. Tomorrow night, the Bucks host Philadelphia with a chance of going back above .500 at home. Milwaukee is 16-and-16 at the Bradley Center. Meanwhile, Bucks’ forward Drew Gooden says he expects to return in a couple weeks from the plantar fasciitis injury in his left foot. He’s missed 37 games this season, including the last 22. He hopes to return for the Bucks’ March 23rd home contest against Sacramento.
The state girls’ high school basketball regionals resume tonight with second-round games in Divisions-Two-through-Five. About 160 teams will make their tournament debuts, after having byes on Tuesday night. All five AP Number-Ones were off that evening – Middleton, Luxemburg-Casco, Whitefish Bay Dominican, Eau Claire Regis, and South Wayne Black Hawk. Division-One schools will play their second round games tomorrow. Sectionals begin next Thursday.
The UW-River Falls women’s hockey team will open its NCAA Division-Three tournament run tonight, when it hosts Gustavus Adolphus. River Falls is 24-1-4, after placing second in its NCHA conference tournament last weekend. Gustavus Adolphus is 21-3-3, after winning its eighth straight MIAC tournament last Saturday. Tonight’s winner will advance to the national semi-finals a week from tonight against Norwich. Meanwhile, the Division-Three men’s tournament resumes tomorrow night. Saint Norbert of De Pere will play Hamline in a quarterfinal matchup. Saint Norbert had a first-round bye, while Hamline eliminated UW-Superior 3-2 in overtime on Wednesday night.
The 13th-ranked UW-Green Bay women’s basketball team will host Wright State tonight in the semi-finals of their Horizon League Tournament. The winner will play either Cleveland State or Butler in the title game on Sunday in Green Bay. The top-seeded Phoenix have won 21 straight games, and they’re 30-1 overall. Green Bay crushed Loyola 89-41 in the quarter-finals on Wednesday night. Fourth-seeded Wright State made the semi-finals by defeating UW-Milwaukee by five points on Wednesday. That tied the Raiders for their largest number of season victories at the Division-One level. They’re 19-11 overall. LaShawna Thomas of Wright State is second in the conference in scoring with 18-point-six points a game. The Raiders will have Molly Fox back, after she missed her last contest against the Phoenix with a sprained ankle. She’s averaging 15 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Green Bay out-scores its opponents by an average of 74-51 – the best in the league in both total offense and defense. Also tonight, the Wisconsin men will play Penn State in the quarter-finals of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.
The UW-Stevens Point men-and-women will both play in the Sweet-16 Round tonight in their respective NCAA Division-Three basketball sectionals. The Pointer men, the defending national champs, are in Rock Island, Illinois to take on Saint Thomas of Saint Paul. Both teams are 26-3. The Pointers score about six more points per game, but the Tommies have the edge in assists. Tonight’s winner will play either Augustana or Mary Hardin-Baylor tomorrow night with a spot in the Final Four at stake. Meanwhile, the Pointer women are hosting a four-team sectional. They’ll play George Fox tonight, and the winner will face either Coe College or Illinois Wesleyan tomorrow night for a spot in the Final Four. Point is 27-2. George Fox is 24-5.
Only one of NASCAR’s major circuits is racing this weekend. The Camping World Truck Series will have the Too-Tough-to-Tame-200 tomorrow in Darlington South Carolina. Johnny Sauter of Necedah, who’s fourth in the season point standings, is entered along with Travis Kvapil of Janesville. The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are off until next weekend in Bristol Tennessee.
In hockey, the Milwaukee Admirals will host Rockford tonight. The Admirals lead the West Division with 81 points, the most in the Western Conference. Rockford has the fewest number of points in the conference with 61 – and they’re the only team in the division that’s not in the running for a playoff spot. Milwaukee is playing through some major injuries. Steve Begin missed 16 games, only to go out again last Friday against Chicago. Linus Klasen, the Admirals’ leading scorer, has missed nine games – and Roman Josi has missed the last four. Coach Lane Lambert says Klasen and Josi are considered probable to return tonight.